Conn. (WTNH) — While many college students are forced to take out loans to afford higher education, a recent study shows that Black students carry more college debt than their white peers.
On average, Black students pay around $25,000 more than white students, with Black women in particular carrying the most debt.
Dr. Shamell Bell, a Harvard professor and single mother, is hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The first-generation college graduate has scholarships but needed loans to help make it through school. She explained that she’s worried about her loan payments and her credit.
“We need to make sure our basic needs are met,” Bell said.
Bell said that while she’s proud of her accomplishments, her debt looms over her.
Dr. Ivory Toldston, director of education innovation and research at the NAACP and professor at Howard University, said Bell isn’t alone. Toldston noted that while there is a decreased gap in those attaining college degrees, the wealth gap is increasing.
“Before we had the civil rights laws, Black people did not have the type of income, cannot own the same types of property as other races,” Toldson said, “and that trickles right into a child’s ability to pay for higher education, so that child has to come out and take out more loans. And so the cycle just continues.”
Some are waiting on President Biden to deliver a campaign promise to reduce student debt, and others are calling for it to be cancelled completely.
Toldson said that higher education should be low to no cost for the majority of low income borrowers. Additionally, Toldson called for the Pell Grant to be increased.
For now, Dr. Bell is hoping to lessen the impact of racial inequality on her son.
“I want to make sure his foundation is set so that if he wants to go to college, he doesn’t have to worry about his basic needs,” Bell said.